Cass County Approves Bonds For Controversial Industrial Facility
The Cass County Council voted to approve bonds for a controversial zinc oxide manufacturing plant last week. Waelz Sustainable Productswants to locate the plant in the county after the project was rejected in Muncie.
Now about the only thing that stands in the way of the project in Cass County is a state permit and lawsuits.
One $17 million tax increment financing bond and a conduit bond that would allow the company to sell up to $70 million in bonds to investors.
County Councilman Grover Bishop voted to approve the bonds. He said it was a tough decision — the county wants to bring in more businesses, but it doesn’t want to create more pollution problems.
“The big concern was, are these emissions being taken care of? And in our mind, they were. We've been given assurances," Bishop said.
The project is expected to bring about 90 jobs to the area.
Lora Redweik is with the Cass County Citizens Coalition, which is concerned the plant would emit dangerous amounts of lead and mercury into the air. She said her group was not aware the bonds would come up for a vote at Friday's meeting and she feels the county rushed to approve them.
The company still hasn’t received a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
“Why are you approving anything when you don’t even have the IDEM draft permit in front of you?” Redweik said.
Redweik said the Citizens Coalition would also have like much more time to negotiate with the company.
Patricio Madero is with Zinc Nacional, a partner in the project. He said the partners had conversations with the Citizens Coalition before the county’s deadline last week in an effort to address their concerns.
As a result, Waelz Sustainable Products agreed to new environmental measures — including certain monitoring technologies and reporting requirements.
"On our end, we have done everything that has been asked," Madero said.
Madero said that doesn't mean that these discussions are over and that the partners would be happy to continue them.
At least two lawsuits regarding the Waelz Sustainable Products proposal are working their way through the courts. Construction on the project has already begun.
This story has been updated.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.